Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2000
Publication Date: 3/7/2001
Citation: Klevay, L.M., Christopherson, D.M. 2001. Copper deficiency decreases plasma testosterone in rats [abstract]. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. 15:A272.
Technical Abstract: Altered concentrations of sex hormones are associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease; e.g., decreased testosterone. Because synthesis of testosterone involves oxidative change and copper generally exerts biological effects via oxidative enzymes, the hypothesis that copper deficiency can decrease testosterone was tested. 30 male, weanling Sprague-Dawley rats were matched by mean weight (46g) into 2 groups and were given a copper and zinc deficient, purified diet based on sucrose (62%), egg white (20%) and corn oil (10%) and a drinking solution with 2 ug Cu/ml (as sulfate) and 10 ug Zn/ml (as acetate) for 35 days when they reached a mean weight of 278 g. Then copper was removed from the solution for half the animals and was increased to 3 ug/ml for the others. Six weeks later when 3 of 15 deficient rats had died with cardiovascular pathologies, remaining animals were anesthetized for collection of samples. Testosterone was measured in plasma by enzyme immunoassay; metallic elements were measured in organs after destruction of organic matter. Cholesterol and testosterone in plasma are reported in mg/dl and ng/ml, respectively (mean+/-SE); copper in organs is in ug/g (dry weight). Copper deficiency decreased hepatic copper from 10.4+/-0.43 to 1.96+/-0.28 (p=0.0001), testicular copper from 10.6+/-0.55 to 4.93+/-0.35 (p=0.0001) and plasma testosterone from 2.38+/-0.13 to 1.63+/-0.27 (p<0.03). Heart weight (g) was increased by deficiency from 1.16+/-0.02 to 1.52+/-0.12 (p<0.02). Significant (p<0.02) correlation between testosterone and testicular copper (r=0.508) indicates the more deficient animals had less circulating testosterone. Results are consonant with the recent report on decreased circulating androgen in men with coronary artery disease.